Ash Grove downs Southwest girls in district semis
The Southwest Lady Trojans bowed out in the Class 3, District 12 semifinals at Seneca on Feb. 22, losing to Ash Grove, 67-43.
Southwest played without senior Michaela Mitchell, who was injured in the opening-round win over Diamond. Shannon Mitchell took a page out of the Cassville playbook and wore her sister's #23 jersey just like Gabe Kirk wore #23 to honor his brother, Garrett, when injury cut his football season short.
But all sentimentality aside, Southwest really missed Michaela Mitchell in this game. Without Michaela Mitchell, Taylor Mettlach was left to match up against Ash Grove's twin towers interior of Lakin Simmerman and Katie Skelton.
Still, the inspired Lady Trojans made a game of it early.
After Shannon Mitchell controlled the opening tip, Jaime Shrum drilled a trey to give Southwest a 3-0 lead. Ash Grove stormed back to take a 7-4 lead, but Southwest reclaimed the lead on a Cady Swindle basket and free throw. But the Lady Pirates scored the final 4 points of the quarter and held a 15-12 lead at the first break.
Nicole Ickes drove and scored to open the second period, and Southwest pulled within 15-14. But Simmerman answered with a strolling hook in the lane to ignite a 7-0 Ash Grove run.
Shrum buried her second trey, but then the Lady Pirates reeled off an 8-0 run to take a 30-17 lead with 1:23 left in the half. Montana Hendrix hit a spot-up three from between the circles to end the quarter and cut the lead to 30-20 at the half.
Fouls and fatigue took their toll on Brad Phillips' team in the third period. Shannon Mitchell picked up her third personal foul at the 3:17 mark as Ash Grove pushed to a 42-25 lead. Then Halee Cashio earned a 3-point play in the final six seconds as Hendrix collected her fourth personal foul.
The Lady Pirates reached the final break with a 50-32 lead.
Southwest fashioned a 6-0 run around a Mettlach follow and another bomb from Shrum. But the Lady Pirates scored 11 consecutive points before Mettlach could end the run with a short bank shot. Ash Grove led by 21 with less than three minutes to play.
Both Mitchell and Hendrix fouled out late as Ash Grove's height and depth wore out Southwest in the paint. The Lady Pirates shot 18 free throws in just the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of their 17 points in that stanza from the line. For the game, Ash Grove converted 29 of 34 charity opportunities. Southwest made only five of nine from the line.
Southwest finished the season with a 25-4 mark. Ash Grove advanced to the championship game on Saturday, where the Lady Pirates earned the district title with a 42-31 victory over East Newton.
Scoring for Southwest: Shrum, 12 points; Hendrix, 10; Taylor Mettlach, 8; Ickes, 7; Swindle, 4; and Shannon Mitchell, 2.
Scoring for Ash Grove: Simmerman, 19 points; Madi Johnson, 16; Abby Arico, 14; Cashio, 11; Skelton, 3; and Erin Weinreis and Jamie Mauss, 2 apiece.